Bartleby the Scrivener A Tale of Wall Street Study Guide

Bartleby the Scrivener A Tale of Wall Street

Bartleby the Scrivener A Tale of Wall Street by Herman Melville

Bartleby the Scrivener is the story of an aging Wall Street lawyer who must hire a third scrivener to deal with an increase in business. Bartleby, the scrivener hired toward this end, is at first extremely skilled and productive. He slowly retreats from work, though, using the phrase "I would prefer not to" as a stock refusal when entreated to perform a task. Bartleby drives the lawyer near to despair before finally being arrested for vagrancy and dying in prison of self-imposed starvation.

Bartleby the Scrivener A Tale of Wall Street Quotes

  • "At present I would prefer not to be a little reasonable," was his mildly cadaverous reply.
  • Nothing so aggravates an earnest person as a passive resistance.
  • Ah, happiness courts the light, so we deem the world is gay, but misery hides aloof, so we deem that misery there is none.
  • And here Bartleby makes his home, sole spectator of a solitude which he has seen all populous- a sort of innocent and transformed Marius brooding among the ruins of Carthage!

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